12 I have made the earth and created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded.
18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:12, 18 NKJV
Scientists tell us that the universe is currently expanding at a great rate, stretching out from a central point that began with a Big Bang. The created universe is being stretched throughout the heavens at a rapid clip.
Scripture tells us who is responsible for the stretching. It also tells us that creation has a purpose, God’s purpose. He formed it to be inhabited.
There is but One sitting upon the throne of heaven. As one person put it, “It is not crowded”.
The Philistines thought they had defeated this God of the heavens when they defeated Israel and took the ark of God from Eli’s wicked sons, whom they killed. In fact, the Philistines were being used by God as an instrument of judgement against the corrupt priesthood that was taking over in Shiloh.
The Philistines carried the ark of God back to their land, and placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon, in Ashdod. Upon awakening the next day, they found their idol Dagon fallen on its face, bowed before the ark of God. Setting it back up, they returned the next morning to find it on the floor again, this time with its head and the palms of its hands broken off.
To make matters worse, God now turned His judgement against the Philistines themselves. He began to inflict them with tumors and there are indications that their city Ashdod was being overrun with disease-bearing rats. (There are also indications that the tumors were in fact a form of intense hemorrhoids).
Ashdod was one of the five great fortified cities of the Philistines, located southwest of Israel. When the lords of the city conferred, they decided to pass the ark along to a second fortified city, Gath, the home of Goliath. But once it arrived, the Lord began to inflict all the men of the city, “both small and great”, with these same tumors. There is a good chance that Goliath himself was a victim.
When the lords of Gath decided to pass the ark along to Ekron, they, too, suffered the same results. By now, the word had gotten around – our gods were no match for the God of heaven. After seven months of agony, it was time to send the ark of God back to its original keepers, Israel.
The Philistines had clearly had enough suffering. They put the ark on a cart pulled by two milk cows, deciding that if the cows begin walking on their own towards Israel, the tumor judgement was from the Lord, and not just a strange coincidence. Just in case, they also had added a second box filled with peace offerings to God, golden idols in the shapes of the tumors and rats of His judgement.
The cows immediately began to pull the cart towards Israel, lowing as they went. The Philistines were finally free of the judgement of God’s ark.
Most suffering in the world is the result of us living in a fallen world, not a result of our own actions. God began the healing process with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. He lives with us and in us and knows each moment of our pain and suffering.
One day, Jesus will restore all things and wipe away every tear. But in the meantime, we lean on Him for support and comfort, and seek to be the hands and feet of Christ to comfort those who suffer around us.
Who needs your help and support today?